Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Importance of a 5-Point-Harness Booster Seat

(Pause my playlist at the bottom of this page.)

This is not a book review, but it's something that's been on my heart since my daughter was about 2 1/2 years old. Most parents I know put their kids in belt-positioning booster seat when their child outgrows their carseat, or when the child turns 3 years old. My daughter goes to 4-year-old preschool, and when her class had a field trip I was shocked to see that she and one other girl were the only kids in harness booster seats. Most 3- and 4-year-olds are not ready to use the car seatbelts, even with a booster seat. They tend to either not fasten the belts correctly, or they lean out from the shoulder straps, in which case the shoulder strap is useless. I observed this when I drove my daughter and some of her classmates on a field trip.

Until recently, only two or three companies manufactured harness booster seats that keep a child in a harness up to 65 or 80 lbs. And the few seat in this category were quite pricey. But I noticed today that more companies are realizing the need for these seats, and parents now have more (and less expensive) options. I bought my daughter a Britax "Regent", and I've been very pleased. It's huge, though, so you have to make sure it will fit in your vehicle. The benefit to its large size, though, is that she's very comfortable, and she's even able to sit "indian-style" in it. She can stay harnessed in this seat until she weighs 80 lbs., which is great since she's big/tall for her age. I just found out that Britax is coming out with a model called the "Frontier" that is also a harness seat to 80 lbs., but it can be a belt-positioning booster to 100 lbs. That's a great option to have (the "Regent" does not have a seat belt option). It also doesn't look as bulky as the "Regent."

One seat that I might look into for my son is this one. The product description says that this booster can be installed safely without using the top tether, which would be a great feature if you move your seat to a different car or take it on trips. It also folds up and has a carry-strap.

Graco just came out with a model called the "Nautilus," and I'd love to find out what people think of it. It can be used with the harness for kids up to 65 lbs., and it can be used as a belt-positioning booster for up to 100 lbs. Has anyone out there reviewed this seat? I'd love to know more about it before my son turns 3 in September. It's only $150, which is about $100 cheaper than our "Regent" was.

Please consider using a 5-point-harness for your kids for as long as possible. Why not invest a little money to protect your most precious assets. It's better to be safe than sorry!


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